April 22, 2006
Publish an Article or Announcement in "The Learning Curve"
Here is an opportunity to publish an article directed at the ASP community. Natt Gantt is looking for submissions for the spring edition of "The Learning Curve," the newsletter of the AALS Section on Academic Support.
He is looking for articles both on research projects in the ASP community and on insights from those practicing in the ASP field. He also welcomes announcements that would be of interest to ASP folks.
Natt would like submissions by May 1 but can be somewhat flexible on the submission date. For a look at articles and essays published in earlier editions of the newsletter, click on "The Learning Curve." (dbw)
April 21, 2006
Lori Shaw, Dean of Students and Professor of Lawyering Skills at University of Dayton School of Law, has done it again. In her latest ¨Professionalism¨ column for Student Lawyer Magazine (April, 2006), Dean Shaw explains how several guidelines will lead students to ¨...personal fulfillment and professional success.¨
The personal fulfillment begins today ... but so does the professional success. How so?
¨Start practicing now,¨ I tell students, ¨to be the kind of lawyer you would hire if you needed one.¨ Dean Shaw´s recommendations? (Each comes with an explanation. You need to read the article.)
Be . . .
- passionate and compassionate.
Academic support includes more than study tips. (djt)
April 20, 2006
Exam Plan II-Strategies by Subject
In the fall I wrote about having an “exam plan,” that is, a time management strategy for getting through the reading period and exams. But I have been thinking lately about having another sort of exam plan in addition to time management. I have been asking students to come up with an exam strategy, that is, a method they plan to employ while taking the exam to maximize time efficiency and organization of their answers.
I know it sounds a little like a carnival tonic, but here’s the idea: have a plan of attack for each subject. For example, a student could plan to tackle a Torts exam by creating a chart of the parties v. the other parties (after reading the question, of course), listing the potential causes of action that arise between each set of parties and then use this chart as a check list of issues to deal with in their answer. It would probably look something like this:
A v. B-negligence, battery
A v. C-negligence, tortuous interference with a K
A v. D-nuisance
B v. C-assault, etc.
In Contracts and Civil Procedure the strategy could be more chronological. Think of it as an obstacle course, what are the hurdles to be cleared? In Contracts, a student needs to deal with formation, and then the terms of the contract, and then if there has been a breach, and finally if there are damages from the breach and then remedies. Don’t forget to think outside the box and cover non- and quasi-contractual concepts as well. In Civil Procedure, a student might have to think through jurisdiction, complaint, answer, 12(b) motions, joinder, discovery, summary judgment, etc.
I have advised students that having a planned course of action before even starting the exam is a good idea. If you have a closed book exam you might want to memorize a very skeletal checklist of potential issues and immediately write it down on your exam paper. In an open book exam, bring your “obstacle course” with you. I also have advised students that this kind of planning can be done collaboratively with a study group (as opposed to outlining which should be done alone).
Personally, I had to write the words, “counterarguments” and “defenses” at the top of every one of my exams. I guess I had a problem with being wrong. (ezs)
April 19, 2006
Excelling on Multiple Choice Tests
For an exceptionally thorough explanation of strategies for answering multiple choice questions, I must again recommend that you check out Vernellia Randall's advice, this time to bar takers. She provides detailed explanations of question types and analytical methods for addressing them. Her advice is as relevant for law students as for bar takers. Take a look. (dbw)
April 18, 2006
The Ten Plagues Upon Law Students
It is Passover. And, after participating in two Seders this year (and sometime after the fourth cup of wine during the second Seder...), I came to realize that the ten plagues visited upon the Egyptians may be analogous to what law students suffer from at this time of year. For those of you not familiar with the story: God supposedly sent ten plagues to the Egyptians to protest their enslavement of the Jewish people and those plagues were: blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, blight-a cattle disease, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the slaying of the first born (my younger children particularly enjoyed acting out the last one on their older sister).
I believe that the ten plagues that visit law students in mid-April are:
1. Stress-exams will be here in a matter of weeks, possibly less than a month at some schools. Some students are still wondering when they will "get" the material and now realize that the ship hasn't yet sailed on understanding the law but it is pulling up anchor.
2. Depression- also probably related to the timing of exams, but also to the weather improving and not being able to participate in it. Also, if students did not do well on prior exams, this new set of exams is imbued with even more meaning for them and the whole of their self-esteem may be riding on their performance now.
3. Failure to outline- the ship has probably sailed on this one. I expect to see a number of panicked students looking for recommendations on what to do if they haven't outlined yet this semester. Usually, I recommend some blending of a commercial outline and their class notes.
4. Lack of Information- about exams. What will the format be? Will there be multiple choice questions? How many? Will the professor cover last semester's material? Ask and you shall know.
5. Lack of Exercise- I know this is crunch-time but if you stop taking care of yourself, you will not function as well. It is very easy to get tunnel-vision about exams and studying if you do not leave this building. Also, if you do not distract yourself in some pleasurable way now and through exams, you will leave your imagination to run wild about the horrifying possibilities of the exams. Your imagination is almost always worse than the exam itself and panic is really time-consuming!
6. Professors Racing to Finish the Material on the Syllabus- sure we can cover fifteen cases per class from now until exams and sure, all this material will be on the exam. Ready, set, go..... It makes the Boston Marathon look like a stroll in the park. I hear a lot about the fundamental unfairness of this situation at this time of year (and every semester) because it happens all the time.
7. Library Noise- Papers are due. Outlines need to be done. The library is louder than usual. Study somewhere else....
8. Registering for Next Semester- should I take the easy class or the one that will be more interesting but might bring down my GPA? I say go for the interesting class because if you are interested you will do better. Take a class with a professor who is passionate about the subject even if they give a harder exam because, especially if this is a bar class, you will absolutely know your stuff.
9. No Summer Job- this is a real problem (especially here in the city of many law schools). But, it is not the end of the world. Volunteering, while not lucrative, will enhance your resume. Also, people who are not paying you will probably be more flexible about how much time you spend there so you can have a paying job on the side. This would be a good time to do a "connections check." You know, "do I know anyone anywhere who could help me out?"
10. Frogs- well it just can't be good to have frogs sitting on your shoulders during exams. Think of the noise. Think of the slime.
Happy Holidays! (ezs)
April 17, 2006
Excellent Exam Prep Resource
Professor Dionne Koller has put together an excellent set of tips for taking law school essay exams. It has great examples to go with the tips as well as advice on mistakes to avoid. Check it out and consider directing your students to her "Strategies for Taking Law School Exams . . . So They Don't Take You" as they begin preparing to take their spring set of exams. (dbw)